Bloomington Playwrights Project: VROOOMMM!

"Vrooommm!" at the Bloomington Playwrights Project is a very funny NASCAR comedy by Janet Allard with Michael Bigelow Dixon. Steven Decker directs a production that has all four wheels on the ground except in the turns. During those frequent turns sometimes there’s only two and perhaps as few as one still firmly on the track.

With the exception of Lindsey Charles all the macho NASCAR racing types are played by women. Mustaches and sideburns were nicely distributed and it was quite a crew. Jessica Ciucci was the young swaggering Hotshot with Kate Braun as his or her father, the aging driver, Rocky. Julia Weiss was the mysteriously silent, mirror sun glassed Sly. And all hearts went out to Alex Young as the sadly cursed driver, number 13, Chip. In the midst of this wild bunch was the burstingly female Lindsey Charles as Leggs, a PhD physicist who’s the first woman driver on the circuit. Ever since the opening few minutes of "VROOOMMM!" I’ve been trying to decide whether to call the show a gender bending fender bender or a fender bending gender bender.

As a broadcaster I’m happy to say that NASCAR wouldn’t be NASCAR without announcers and the show has a premium pair. Lauren Steffen was the alliteration mad, motor mouthed main man, Randy. In addition to an affection for rough word play, Randy has a real appetite for motorway mayhem. Anneliese Toft played the sympathetic and much mismatched boothmate, Richard.

Janet Allard’s "VROOOMMM!" is simply loaded with plots, perhaps a few too many of them. For a start almost everyone is plotting about Leggs. The other drivers, the management, and Lauren Pope as a traveling groupie waitress are all against her. Then, Alex Young, taking a break from playing driver Chip, as one of her most devoted fans is in on her own variety of nefarious doings. For good measure there’s the occasional appearances of the black clad veiled Flossie, older driver Rocky’s dead wife and a mysterious sponsor mascot chicken who alternately tempts and threatens drivers..

Here are a couple of quick caveats. I did wish that in the neatly worked out karaoke segments in "VROOOMMM!" someone, anyone, in the cast could actually sing. And the focus does lag toward the end of the first act, though it picked up nicely after intermission.

As the final act went on, it seemed as if wheels were revolving in wheels. Just when it seemed that there was no way for things to get sorted out, who should appear but Dylan Germick as a white jump suited deus ex Elvis. With passion, concern and inspiration The King conducted a revival style finale that ended with all the drivers competing in a mock life or death game of musical chairs. As driver after driver was eliminated the tension mounted until it was down to Leggs and the sad Chip. The audience’s sympathies were pretty much divided. Who gets that final chair, well, I won’t tell you that, but I will say that the end like the play is both very funny and very satisfying

"Vrooommm!" at the Bloomington Playwrights Project plays Thursday thru Saturday evenings at eight and Sundays at two thru February 10th.

George Walker

After completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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